Posted By admin Posted On

Baseball Historical past on a Scrap of Paper

Humorous if you end up a younger kid, how actually historic moments could drop into your lap and you do not understand it. I used to be solely 10 years old and dwelling in Bakersfield, CA, when my Dad got here to the breakfast table one morning, smiling and holding a pair of tickets in his hand. “Son,” he stated, “I’ve bought two tickets to a baseball sport at Sam Lynn Ballpark for at present, would you prefer to go?” Effectively, I did play Little League Baseball and only a 12 months earlier than had develop into a fan of the Brooklyn Dodgers, after watching them win their First World Collection. So, I stated, “Positive.” It wasn’t till I used to be an grownup, a few years later, and was sorting via an old field of my belongings from my youth, that I noticed, “My God, I bought Willie Mays’ autograph.”

Now, let me put a few issues in perspective. Bakersfield solely had about 50,000 residents on the time. A Main League Baseball participant coming to city was about as uncommon as seeing an eclipse with the bare eye. An entire crew of Main Leaguers coming to Bakersfield to play an exhibition sport was like stumbling over a gold nugget solely to search out a complete mine simply beneath your toes. And but, the Corridor of Fame outfielder of the then New York Giants did come to city with a barnstorming group of ballplayers billed as, “Willie Mays Main League Negro-American All-Stars Tour.”

The unhappy factor is I most likely knew who Willie Mays was, and which may have been the hook that satisfied me to go to the sport. However, in truth, I’m too old to recollect. I do recall that Dad purchased me a memento program for the sport, and in it was a web page which about half approach down had the phrase “Autographs” printed on it over a big space of empty white area. I can not let you know a lot in regards to the sport – who received it, who made the good performs, or if Mays hit a dramatic homer. Like I stated, I used to be 10 years old. I Checked with The Bakersfield Californian, the town’s solely main every day. It doesn’t have a file of the sport. Solely by discovering a Willie Mays biography on the lower than dependable Wikipedia did I uncover that Mays did certainly go on a tour with black Main Leaguers that 12 months.

I do know that I spent a substantial period of time sticking that program and a blue ink pen in entrance of each ballplayer I might get near that day. Earlier than I get to the gamers, how about some historical past? Solely 9 years earlier than Mays and company got here to Bakersfield, there have been no black gamers in Main League Baseball. The Shade Line was not damaged till the Brooklyn Dodgers signed Jackie Robinson to play for them in 1947. Rosa Parks’ refusal to surrender her bus seat in Birmingham predated Mays’ go to by solely a 12 months. Governor George Wallace wouldn’t block the doorway to black college students attempting to enter the College of Alabama for the primary time till seven years later in 1963. Equal rights for African-Individuals wouldn’t be achieved till President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

There was loads of racial turbulence across the nation and extra to come back after that sport performed in Bakersfield. A lot has been stated of Mays as a ballplayer, however to take an all-black crew on a collection of exhibition video games in cities across the nation, throughout that point in historical past, confirmed how a lot of a forward-thinker he was, too. The saddest factor is that he needed to do it in any respect. One different element in regards to the sport in Bakersfield – the opposing crew was comprised of all-white gamers, largely minor leaguers. Segregation was nonetheless alive exterior Main League Baseball – matching race towards race – not on the streets however inside a ballpark.

Right here is how Wikipedia referred to the tour. “1956 Willie Mays Main League Negro-American All-Stars Tour. In 1956, Mays bought lots of Main League Baseball’s greatest black stars to go on a tour across the nation after the season had ended to play exhibition video games. Whereas a lot of the tour has gone undocumented, one venue the place the tour made a cease was at Andrews Discipline, positioned in Fort Smith, Arkansas, on October 16. Among the many gamers to play in that sport had been Willie Mays, Frank Robinson, Hank Aaron, Elston Howard, Monte Irvin, Gene Baker, Charlie Johnson, Sam Jones, Hank Thompson, and Joe Black.” And naturally, one of many undocumented cities was Bakersfield. In any case, I’ve the autographs to show it.

Extra info and perception in regards to the tour could be discovered on-line on the Baseball Historical past Weblog. The knowledge is in regards to the 1955 and 1956 exhibition excursions, which apparently passed off in November one 12 months and October within the different. It provides good glimpses into what the tour was all about. A few of the extra enlightening info reveals that one motive the gamers agreed to play the exhibition video games was so they might earn between $2,000-$Four,000 for the month, which amounted to about 50 p.c of what a Main Leaguer would make taking part in a complete 154-game schedule.

Talking of schedules, the weblog prints out the 1956 location of the exhibition video games. All 4 in California – Los Angeles, San Franciso, Oakland and Los Angeles once more – had been all canceled, it says. Bakersfield shouldn’t be talked about on the schedule, which implies it should have been added as an after thought to recoup among the income misplaced by not taking part in the opposite California video games.

However to dwell on the disparities of the time shouldn’t be my purpose. As an alternative, I want to single out among the black gamers who made that journey to Bakersfield, and who had been variety sufficient to signal their autographs, permitting me, years later, to find what accomplishments they made to the sport of Main League Baseball. Think about for a second that many of those men had been effectively past their prime taking part in days after spending years within the Negro Baseball League – in lots of circumstances mendacity about their ages only for the prospect to play within the Main Leagues. Many had what would have been Corridor of Fame years whereas taking part in within the Negro League however didn’t have sufficient good years left after they bought their likelihood within the Majors. Nonetheless, many did succeed, and people who didn’t made it attainable for individuals who would observe to take action.

The Autographs

Willie Mays – What can I say about him that has not already been written? Let’s enumerate some, anyway. They’re value repeating: 1951 Nationwide League Rookie of the Yr, two-time Nationwide League MVP, 24 instances a Nationwide League All-Star and twice the MVP of the sport, 12-time Gold Glove winner and a man who amassed 660 homeruns in his profession – fourth better of all-time, and Mays did it with out efficiency enhancing medicine.

Jim Gilliam – He was the1953 Nationwide League Rookie of the Yr, performed 14 years as an infielder with the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers, was twice named to the Nationwide League All-Star crew and was on 4 Dodgers World Collection Championship groups. As a rookie with the Dodgers, he hit extra triples, 17, than any Dodger since 1920, and in 1956, the identical 12 months he performed the sport in Bakersfield, Gilliam tied a Main League file that had stood since 1892, when he totaled an unbelievable 12 defensive assists in a single sport.

Joe Black – He was the 1952 Nationwide League Rooke of the Yr and the primary black pitcher to win a World Collection sport. His rookie 12 months, Black received 15 video games, saved 15 video games, had an ERA of two.15, and got here inside eight innings of being eligible to win the NL ERA title. He pitched six years within the Main Leagues. It might need been longer, however he was already 28 when he bought his likelihood. He joined with Jackie Robinson to push for a pension plan for Negro League gamers and inclusion of those that performed earlier than 1947.

Gene Baker – If it weren’t for unhealthy luck, Baker, a second baseman, would have gone down in historical past as the primary African-American to play for the Chicago Cubs. He was the primary to be placed on the roster in 1953 however an harm prevented him from taking part in, and the consideration went to Ernie Banks, who was known as up later. Nonetheless, he and Banks (who performed shortstop) turned the primary black double play mixture in Main League Baseball. As a part-time participant, he earned a World Collection Championship ring with the 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates. A 12 months later, the Pirates made him the primary black minor league supervisor, the place he additionally performed and batted.387 for the Class D Batavia Pirates.

Wes Covington – He performed 10 years within the Majors as an outfielder, none greater when it comes to dramatics than the 12 months 1957. Referred to as up by the Milwaukee Braves with rather less than half the season already gone, Covington, taking part in in the identical outfield with Henry Aaron, hit.284 with 21 homers and 65 runs batted in. When the Braves went to the World Collection that 12 months, Covington made an unimaginable catch robbing the Yankees’ Bobby Shantz of an additional basehit, after which drove within the profitable run for the Braves. Covington crashed into the fence to steal a homerun from Gil McDougal and save Recreation 5 for the Braves, who went on to win the World Collection.

Al Smith – Though he performed 12 years within the Majors, most of Smith’s memorable moments got here with the Cleveland Indians and the Chicago White Sox. Two years earlier than the Mays All-Stars got here to Bakersfield, Smith performed towards Willie within the 1954 World Collection wherein he led off the primary sport with a homerun. Smith additionally performed within the 1959 World Collection for the White Sox towards the Los Angeles Dodgers. In all, he had eight World Collection hits. He was additionally twice named to the American League All-Star Crew.

George Crowe – He was a 30 12 months old first baseman, when he bought his Main League likelihood with the Boston Braves. Crowe was a university graduate from the College of Indianapolis (referred to as Indiana Central School again then) and a gifted athlete in two sports activities. He was Indiana’s first “Mr. Basketball.” His greatest 12 months was with the Cincinnati Reds in 1957, when he stuffed in for the injured Ted Kluszewski and hit 31 home runs on the age of 36. Crowe was named to the 1958 Nationwide League All-Star Crew. At one-time, he held the Main League file for many pinch hit homeruns -14.

Humberto Robinson – He was a door opening pitcher. The primary native-born participant from Panama to make it to the Main Leagues, he was known as up by the Milwaukee Braves in 1955. As such, he paved the way in which for a lot of different Panamanians who adopted, together with standouts Carlos Lee, Dave Roberts, Manny Sanguillen, Corridor of Famer Rod Carew and future Corridor of Famer Mariano Rivera. He received 122 video games in 10 minor league seasons. Robinson was a center reliever for six years with 4 groups within the Majors. Robinson’s integrity makes him a footnote in baseball historical past. Whereas pitching for the Phillies in 1959, he refused a $1,500 bribe to throw a sport and made positive the man who made the bribe was arrested 미러룸.

Harry “Suitcase” Simpson – As an outfielder, he got here as much as the Majors in 1951 with the Cleveland Indians and performed eight seasons with 5 completely different groups. Sportswriters nicknamed him “Suitcase” after a Toonerville Trolley character known as Suitcase Simpson. He performed on the 1957 New York Yankees World Collection crew. Supervisor Casey Stengel known as him “the very best defensive proper fielder within the American League.” The feat for which he’s most likely greatest remembered got here on Aug. 26, 1952, when he broke up a no-hitter by Detroit Tigers’ pitcher Artwork Houtteman with a two-out, ninth inning single.

Bennie Daniels – If nothing else, it seems Daniels, a beginning pitcher, had a flare for pitching in landmark ballgames. He was nonetheless a minor leaguer taking part in for the Hollywood Stars of the Pacific Coast League, when he performed within the Bakersfield sport. The following 12 months, 1957, he could be known as up by Pittsburgh and spend 10 seasons with the Pirates and Washington Senators. Think about these landmark video games wherein he pitched: 1957 – began the final sport ever performed at Brooklyn’s Ebbetts Discipline; 1960 – misplaced a one-hitter to the Dodgers and Sandy Koufax, however his hit broke up the no-hitter; 1962 – began the final sport ever performed at Griffith Discipline; 1962 – began the primary sport in historical past at D.C. Stadium (now known as RFK Stadium) a five-hit, Four-1 win over Detroit.

Charlie White – His profession as a Main League catcher was over by the point he performed within the Bakersfield sport. He performed in solely 62 video games, backing up Milwaukee Braves’ catcher Del Crandall from 1954-55. In whole, White spent 13 years within the minor leagues. But, he had some historical past whereas within the Majors. White hit his first Main League homerun in the identical sport teammate Henry Aaron hit his first on April 23, 1954. In contrast to Aaron, who would hit one other 754 in his profession, White by no means hit one other one. His different declare to fame? He was Aaron’s first Braves’ roommate.

So, whereas some could regard my scrap of paper as a meaningless memento, to me, the historical past it reveals makes it a priceless treasure.